Wednesday, July 22, 2020

When Did We First See Waffle Irons?

Waffle, Waffle Irons, Waffle Bake, BakeI don't know about you but I absolutely love waffles when I have a bit of time, like on the weekend.  I actually prefer the thicker Belgian ones but my parents had the regular thin ones like in the photo.

I figured the waffle maker has only been around a short time but it the original ones were seen in Ancient Greece where they made wafers that are similar to today's waffles.

By the Middle Ages, people in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were making something similar to waffles using two iron plates connected with a wooden handle. Users held the implement over an open fire, hoping they neither burned themselves nor the waffle.  It is believed that blacksmiths in the 15th century custom made waffle irons for the rich.  They often put on the family's coat of arms or other decoration per the family's orders.

Originally, the irons had designed etched in them that transferred to the waffle but people began adding toppings, the waffle makers switched to having indentations so the topping stayed in the holes. Thomas Jefferson is responsible for bringing waffles and waffle irons to the United States just before the beginning of the 19th century after visiting France.    

Unfortunately, there was no way to keep from burning oneself, the wooden handle or check to see if the waffle was done so in 1869, Swartwout received the first patent for a cast iron waffle maker that easily sat on a wood burning stove. In addition, it had a handle that allows it to be easily opened or closed, turned, all without ending up burned.  Furthermore, most people attribute the invention of the modern waffle iron to him, he only claims to have improved the waffle iron.

This version was so successful, it spread across the country rapidly.  The electrical version didn't appear until early in the 20th century.  It appears the first electric waffle iron came out in 1906 and was made by Simplex Electrical Company in Boston but General Electric developed their first electrical prototype in 1911 however they did not put it into production for another seven years.  Then in 1926, Charles M. Cole created the first twin waffle iron designed to cook two waffles at once.  It worked by pouring the batter into the bottom chamber, a lid would be lowered and a second waffle was poured in and the top lid closed the whole contraption.  Both waffles were cooked till done.

Waffles became so popular for breakfast in the 1920's that companies often included waffle makers as part of breakfast sets.  Breakfast sets came with a coffee percolator, both a sugar and batter bowl, syrup and cream pitchers, and a ladle.  In addition, you could buy the pieces individual or as a set. This practice continued into the 1930's.   Somewhere in the 1920's or 1930's, temperature controls were added to waffle irons.

Perhaps Nike had the oddest use of a waffle iron.  In 1971, one of the owners of Nike got the idea from his wife to pour the urethane into their 1936 waffle maker and that became the bottom of their new shoe.  The dents created a pattern that didn't tear up the track and it was released as part of Nike's Waffle Trainer in 1974.  The waffle iron used to create the first sole is now on display at Nike.

Furthermore, waffle irons are not just used to cook waffles.  People have made brownies, pizza, falafel, biscuits, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, bibimbap, French toast, hash browns, grilled cheese, carrot cake, bacon, cornbread, grilled apples, frittata, cinnamon rolls, Mac and cheese, omelets, churros, and pretzels.

So know you know a bit more about the history waffle irons.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

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